2020 F1 driver rankings #2: Max Verstappen

2020 F1 season review

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Max Verstappen was the only driver who gave the Mercedes pair any trouble in 2020. He was the closest thing Lewis Hamilton or Valtteri Bottas had to a season-long threat.

But from the beginning of the season the gap in performance between his car and the W11 was wide, and it took until the final races for Red Bull to catch up. They were more than a second per lap behind in July, and for much of the year Verstappen’s race-winning opportunities relied on something going wrong for either or both of the black cars.

Given that, for Verstappen to end the championship just nine points behind Valtteri Bottas is a seriously impressive achievement. Had he not suffered considerably worse reliability than the Mercedes driver (he completed the fewest racing laps of any driver who appeared in all 17 rounds) Verstappen would surely have split the two W11 drivers in the points standings. He had the greater share of misfortune at Red Bull, and only Kevin Magnussen retired from more races.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2020
Verstappen kept taking second places from the Mercedes drivers
The problems began at the very first race, where a power unit glitch put him out of second place. A similar fault ended his day at Monza, he was taken out on lap one at Mugello, and tyre failure pitched him into a gravel trap at Imola, not long after he’d successfully passed Bottas.

When Verstappen reached the chequered flag he almost invariably wrung the best out of the Red Bull. After pranging his car on the reconnaissance lap in Hungary, he rewarded his team for their fast repair job by bringing it home second. As the season wore on Verstappen often joked about how often he qualified third behind the two Mercedes drivers, but one particularly impressive aspect of his season was his six second-place race finishes achieved at the expense of at least one of the all-conquering W11s.

Max Verstappen

Beat team mate in qualifying17/17
Beat team mate in race11/11
Races finished12/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate728/756
Qualifying margin-0.52s
Points214

He was at his irreprible best when handed a genuine chance to win in the second race at Silverstone, pouncing on the tyre-troubled Mercedes pair. His only other win came at the season finale, where Mercedes were curiously off-pace, and Verstappen wrung everything from his car to nab pole position by 25 thousandths of a second.

Turkey, the sole race of the season which saw Verstappen take the chequered flag outside the top three, was probably the only missed opportunity to win he could be blamed for. He was running ahead of eventual winner Hamilton before spinning while trying to pass Sergio Perez. He is a much-matured driver compared to his earlier years in the sport, but impatience got the better of him on this occasion.

The rest of his campaign, throughout which he invariably brought his car home well ahead of the other Red Bull, Verstappen left little room to doubt he is prepared to fight Hamilton for the championship as soon as he gets a car which is quick and reliable enough. Unfortunately for him, last year’s Red Bull was neither of those.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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104 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #2: Max Verstappen”

  1. True and utter domination of teammate.

    1. Since I inevitably expect some novice F1 fan who knows nothing about the sport to respond to your post by claiming that the Red Bull is build around Max, I recommend that everyone watched this video:

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-6q0ZswxA4Y

      The people who strongly dislike Verstappen need to find special reasons (aka excuses) as to why he beats talented teammates like Gasly by an enormous margin. That is why they resort to conspiracy theories like team sabotage or special car handling characteristics.

      I can guarantee you that when Verstappen beats Perez by a clear margin next season, the same old conspiracy theories will emerge.

      That is because for some people, it’s more comforting to make excuses than to accept the true reason why Verstappen is so much faster than his teammates: it’s because he is just that good

      1. @kingshark it’s not like he’s always blown away his teammates though. He was mostly equal with Ricciardo, and was out-qualifiyed by Sainz, who would have scored as many points as him without bad luck. The fact he went from being evenly-matched with his teammates to so suddenly blowing away Gasly and Albon does raise some questions.

        1. @tflb I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on “out-qualified by Sainz” given Max’s extreme youth at the time and the fact that he was barely out of karting but for one year, when he started in F1. And, ‘mostly equal with Ricciardo’ shades things too, for by the time DR was in what we now know was to be his last season or even two at RBR, Max was outqualifying him two to one, leading him in races 2-1, finishing ahead etc etc. And some of that time was even when Max was still making the mistakes of an overly exuberant youth and was literally handing positions and points to DR as a result.

          So I’d say you’re taking some license in claiming Max went from ‘evenly-matched’ to ‘suddenly’ blowing away Gasly and Albon, and therefore no questions need be raised. Max has shown us the answers on track, particularly after that famous Monaco weekend that he squandered, and that really stung him, and after which he suddenly (I think it is safe to use that word in this context) stopped making all those youthful mistakes, and started making much more careful and considered choices for his racing moves. And he hasn’t looked back since.

          1. @robbie the Verstappen inexperience argument has been made many times but there’s no evidence to really support that. If a driver is quick they’ll be quick no matter how much experience they’ve got. See Kimi in the Sauber in 2001 after 19 car races. And yes he was very evenly matched with Ricciardo (who I’m also not a big fan of), but Ricciardo had particularly bad luck in their last season together.

            Nah I don’t think I’m taking any license at all. From being a guy who was always pretty close in pace to his teammates, he now hasn’t been out qualified on merit for 2 seasons. I think with a proven driver in the other seat, he’ll have a more difficult time.

          2. @tflb I don’t imagine you would have bothered to watch the video that kingshark has referenced, where experience is discussed and I think could apply to any driver. You suggesting there is no evidence of inexperience regarding a 17 year old is quite funny. But the video is a lot about adaptability too.

            As far as Max having a proven driver in the other seat, well he did fine with DR there, and from his standpoint it is not a matter of having a more difficult time, for he will always be looking first and foremost to what he can do to win races irregardless of whatever his teammate is doing. Max’s motivation is to beat all drivers including his teammate, so the ‘difficulty’ lies within how to do that, not solely how to beat his teammate. That’s only one component of his ever present effort towards the top. For now, Max already has a more impressive career in F1 than Perez has managed, so I’m sure the degree of difficulty for Max will not hinder him. Rather he has spoken of looking forward to hopefully being pushed by Perez as they both advance the car, and that would be great if that can happen but I think with Perez we will just have to wait and see. As always I personally always like to give drivers that are new to a team the benefit of the doubt initially, as they learn about the car and the team and they about him. At a minimum Perez should be starting off on his hind foot, but hey with any luck the car is so drivable that perhaps that might not take long before Perez is up to speed.

          3. @tflb

            Raikkonen was actually firmly beaten by Heidfeld in his first season finishing behind him more often and being beaten in qualifying 10 – 7. You kinda break your own comment.

        2. @tflb
          You are criticizing Verstappen for things he did at an age when Hamilton was not even good enough to be in the sport.

          I think with a proven driver in the other seat, he’ll have a more difficult time.

          Thankfully Perez next year will give us a clear answer. If Max beats Perez clearly, it’s clear that he’s the fastest driver in the sport.

          1. @kingshark I’m not criticising him for 2015, 16, whatever. I’m just saying he didn’t blow everyone away like some people like to imply.

            The key word in your last sentence is ‘if’. It’s fairly likely to happen, but it’s not a given by any means.

          2. @kingshark Beating Perez clearly won’t prove Max is the fastest in the sport. There’s still no good direct link between Max and Charles.

          3. @exediron
            Both Max and Charles are faster than Hamilton. Charles might be even faster than Max over one lap, but a Max is slightly quicker on race pace. That’s just my opinion.

          4. @kingshark I would have agreed in 2019 that there were serious questions over Charles’ race pace, but in 2020 I thought it looked very strong. A few times he qualified the car out of position and I expected him to drop back (Portugal comes to mind) he was able to hold on. He does make more mistakes than Max at present, however.

          5. @kingshark Being ready for F1 sooner just shows the advantage drivers with wealthy backers have. Lets not forget how young Stroll was to get into F1 but I don’t think he’s a better driver than Hamilton just because he bought his way into the sport earlier.

            Max beating Perez does not prove anything. Max needs to beat Ricciardo, LeClerc, Sainz, Russell in equivalent machinery. That seems to be the demand made by Hamilton critics so it should apply to Verstappen equally that while ever he’s driving a better car than those competitors, it’s just the car apparently.

          6. @slowmo
            The key difference between Max and Stroll is that Max was ready for F1 at the age of 17. Stroll wasn’t ready and looked painfully out of his depth in his rookie season

            Being ready for F1 sooner just shows the advantage

            Hamilton was a member of the McLaren junior program since the age of 12. He didn’t have any financial problems in junior categories.

            Max beating Perez does not prove anything.

            Perez is easily as good as Bottas (actually he is better), so Max beating Perez by a bigger margin than Hamilton has over Bottas does prove something.

            Max needs to beat Ricciardo

            Already done that
            Hamilton just wasn’t a prodigious enough talent to enter F1 at the age of 17. At the age of 19 he was finishing behind nobodies like Premat and Green in Formula 1.

        3. Only when you believe the things you stated

        4. TLFB you are wrong .. in 2015 Verstappen outqualified Sainz 10-9 and had a massive lead in points with 49 vs 18. But that is not the story .. the story is Max his progression against Sainz. In 2016 he outqualified Sainz 4-1 before he went to RBR. Basically the same story with Ricciardo. The last year at RBR you could clearly see that Max had surpassed Daniel in qualifying and in the race!

        5. Max actually did beat Sainz in quali…you just need to look a bit closer 8-6 in 2015, 11-8 overall.
          Just take away any of the both drivers did have mechanical issues during quali….

          Ricciardo beat him in 2916 and 2017 they say…. ‘beat’ being the key word, Ricciardo took more points, though in 207 fe. Ricciardo was ahead just 5 out 20 races, the 14 DNF’s did have a rather impact on the outcome, but the pure facts are Dan was ahead in only 5 races….

      2. Although Marko did say Albon sometimes didn’t get the same equipment as Max

        1. Oh, that is most definite.
          New parts almost exclusively went to Max first. But that didn’t necessarily mean he had a better car.
          Red Bull got it wrong with the early updates, after the corona delay compared to the wintertest car.
          And will have gotten it wrong on other occasions later in the easy aswel.

      3. @kingshark Well said, and thanks for that video link.

    2. @knightameer An image of a shark and a flounder comes to mind. Not exactly an even contest.

  2. After the Portugal incident, the comment section is going to be interesting…

    1. Ah well, ha ers will be ha ters. It was clear from the get go, that this is a once in a decade talent. Resistance is futile

      1. I don’t know if he will get no shred of honor or actually get a shred of honor. We’ll see in 4 years from now.

  3. Very much looking forward to seeing how he measures up against Perez – I have a feeling some of the shine might come off Max. Looking forward to seeing him challenged again (hopefully). It was very hard to tell this year whether Albon was that bad or Max was that good – truth somewhere in the middle probably. Overall he deserves to be second – not perfect, as Portugal was a big missed opportunity, and I do think he deserves some blame for his retirement in the second Bahrain race – didn’t realise the gravel was there.

    1. The battle between Perez and Verstappen is the single one anticipate the most in 2021. Max may have had an easy ride against Albon but I fancy him raising his game against Perez, just like Hamilton did with Rosberg and countless others did the same in the past. Hopefully Sergio with rise to the challenge too and Mercedes will have a proper challenge on their hands. That might be wishful thinking but one can wish!!

    2. I’m pretty certain you’ll be proved wrong. Ocon out performed Perez in 2018. And Verstappen was faster than Ricciardo, who in turn crushed Ocon in 2020. I’m a fan of Perez, and he’ll make the battle with the Mercs more interesting. But he aint gonna get near Max.

      1. @xpucksterx I’m not sure the Ocon comparisons hold much water as one can pretty much argue that any driver is better than any other by using those kind of arguments. I probably will be wrong, but I’m more optimistic than if Albon had stayed.

        1. I accept that the point I made doesn’t offer a guarantee, and to be clear, my point wasn’t made in absolute terms. But what other compariosns can be made other than factual ones?

      2. An example of the perils of ‘so-and-so beat so-and-so so is better than x’ arguments – Maldonado compared much better to Barrichello than Hulkenberg did, Hulkenberg beat Sainz at Renault, Sainz beat Kvyat at Toronto Rosso, Kvyat beat Ricciardo at RB, therefore Maldonado > Ricciardo.

        1. *Toro Rosso, darn autocorrect

        2. for qualifier you can use this IF the years aren’t to far of each other. @xpucksterx just use the drivers within 2 years which give a beter then normal idea of preformance.

      3. Ocon did not outdrive Perez, you are mistaken

        1. “Ocon did not outdrive Perez, you are mistaken”

          Not…? he actully finished ahead almost 2-1

    3. @tflb

      Let’s see how things pan out next year. Honestly.. the shine didn’t come off Verstappen when he was paired up against Ricciardo. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Personally, I don’t think Perez will match to Ricciardo’s level of teammate to Max. I think if anything.. a lot of shine will wear off on Perez’s achievements and there will be a few comparisons to his Mclaren 2013 stint as well.

      1. @todfod No I agree, the shine didn’t come off against Ricciardo, although to me that’s because it hadn’t quite built up yet to the level it’s at now! There’s this myth about Verstappen being unbeatable – I don’t think Perez will beat him very often, but I think it will happen on occasion. It’ll be interesting whatever happens.

    4. Max will destroy Perez every single weekend. Not to the extent he has been, but Perez will be very much like Bottas, a good driver but a clear number 2

    5. @tflb I find your choice of wording above kind of strange, particularly “how he measures up against Perez.” I would think that at a bare minimum, even setting aside comparisons of each drivers’ abilities and talents, it is Perez who is the newbie on the team and therefore it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Max, not the other way around as you have stated it.

      It is also very strange to me that you find it hard to tell how good Max is because of how bad Albon was last year. I would think the vast majority of us saw a Max that was up there competing with the Mercedes cars, as the only driver able to, and that those performances should stand on their own, and have nothing to do with whatever AA did or didn’t do. “Truth somewhere in the middle?” No not at all. Max showed us his truth all on his own. That he nearly beat VB for second in the WDC has nothing to do with AA.

      I think it must be the case that you are just not a fan of Max’s, which is fine of course, when you make the same dreary claims such as “didn’t realize the gravel was there” which is utter nonsense, and presumes you (and the minority who think alike on the incident) know how to drive the car better, and knew exactly what Max was going through in those split seconds, his grip level etc, and would have done better. What I saw on the replay was Max seemingly unable to do anything to slow himself given the momentum he had, and had he been able to turn right and away from the gravel in those 20 or 30 feet that he had room to work with, assuming he even had the grip to do so, he would have steered right into Perez who was sliding backwards parallel to Max, in the same direction. I think let’s trust that this driver who has made it to #2 in the rankings on this site for 2020, who some think could or should have been #1 even, did the best he could have done in that situation, as he was handcuffed to save the situation.

      1. @robbie you read too much into my choice of words there matey, the ‘measures up to’ was meant as a neutral term. Anyway, you’re right, I can’t stand Max, I think he’s an objectionable character just like his criminal dad. Having said that I do think he deserves second place… but I certainly don’t view him as unbeatable like some do.

        1. @tflb Fair enough, we know where you stand, and can therefore consider that when you make unreasonable speculations, or for example have to reach back to his pairing when he was 17 with Sainz as evidence of anything. Or when you erroneously claim Max and DR were ‘evenly matched.’ Or when you call his Dad a criminal. There’s not being a fan, and then there’s taking it to some other unhealthy level of convincing oneself of one’s position and the reason for such, that goes beyond reality.

          1. @robbie his dad is a criminal though. Look it up. Convicted for smashing a guy’s skull with a crowbar… also of breaching a restraining order against his ex-wife and threatening her.

            I’m perfectly grounded in reality, mate. The ones who aren’t are those who can’t see past their hero’s fallibility.

          2. @tflb I realize that his Dad has had some issues, but it shows you have no class and indeed aren’t grounded in reality, when you have to bring that up in order to try to bring Max down. His Dad’s actions are not his, and certainly have nothing to do with his on-track performance and his F1 career and things like his rating on this site. But hey, you can’t stand Max, and you are obviously even willing to show immaturity to prove it.

          3. @robbie I’m not the immature one here. I gave a (perfectly legitimate) take on how I rate his talents and you went off on one. I realise his father’s actions are not his, but the fact is Jos has been a big driving force behind his career. In addition, Max has behaved in an unsavoury manner plenty of times both on and off track in F1. But anyway, I don’t need to justify why I don’t like someone, particularly not to a blinded fan.

          4. @tflb No you certainly don’t need to justify why you don’t like someone, but you certainly don’t need to twist reality to do it either, like nobody will notice or question you on it. I’m not blinded but rather being accurate about his career and abilities etc etc but I know you have a blindness of your own that has you persisting on bringing his Dad into it for example, which smacks of a desperation to take something away from his person and his abilities.

            But hey, you gotta be you, and Max will continue on being the incredible talent he is, gaining more and more experience that he will continue to draw on as he adapts, lap by lap. You really should watch that video cited above by kingshark. You might learn something about him that might make you eventually change your mind, for he’s going to be a top F1 icon for a good 15 more years.

    6. Verstappen, Ricciardo, Ocon/Hulkenberg, Perez is the order.
      Perez will find himself around 0.5 sec behind, Helmut Marko’s goal is to get within 0.3 sec, however Ricciardo wasn’t even within 0.3 sec in 2017… the gap increased even onto 2018. Marko’s usually sets ambitious goals…. 0.3 gap between the two is the ambition, 0.5 sec will be far more realistic.

    7. He will do just fine. Perez is pretty mediocre. Imho Perez level should be the minimum requitement to get an F1 seat. We should not accept Grosjeans in these cars. There are only 20 seats. Perez really is the minimum level all should bring

  4. The same #1 and #2 for the last 4 seasons.

  5. “Unreliability meant Max Verstappen covered fewer racing laps than any driver over the 17-race championship, yet remarkably he came within nine points of beating a Mercedes.”

    And yet you put the driver in a faster and more reliable car in the top spot.

    1. @Erik
      So you want the WDC who finished 133 points ahead of his nearest rival to be at rank 2 instead of Verstappen, because it was all the car and not the driver I suppose.

      But you’re right, that Merc drives, brakes, steers, accelerates, manages its fuel, tires and strategy all by itself, Hamilton just sits there smiling like a Cheshire cat, so I actually agree with you.

    2. I was thinking the same thing.

      At the very least make it a tie!

      The whole world wants to see Lewis and Max driving the same machinery!

    3. All Max had to do was beat a poor teammate (Albon) ranked near last on here. No way did Max deserve top spot.

      1. If you use that why is Lewis then nr. 1 he did only beat his teammate?

        You have to watch all races give all drivers points while keeping some rules to apply points. The add them up then you have your rankings (like the powerrakings of F1.com)
        Max and Lewis are the only ones with a massive points advantage with nr. 3 (and that isn’t Charles)

      2. That’s not quite true though, at the very least Max had that other Mercedes to beat which was half a second quicker at least. His teammate was nowhere near him, the drivers in between them brought more of a challenge at times. The same can’t be said for Mercedes – they have no true competition, which makes it even more shocking that Max almost beat Bottas for 2nd. But that’s somewhere in between Max’s capabilities and Bottas’ incompetence.

        However, I do agree he shouldn’t be first in this ranking. Hamilton won the championship by a mile, and his teammate is the ultimate proof that you don’t just get into a Mercedes and win the championship.

    4. Verstappen and Hamilton both had no meaningful opposition. They were both clear of their teammates, and both clear of the competition. Verstappen was normally only going to get the better of the Mercedes when something went wrong.

      So they both needed to do their best, and had a little cushion for mistakes. Compare this with Leclerc or Ricciardo, who were always going to be fighting, every race.

      I don’t think we can really tell who was better this year, but I’d be inclined to rate Verstappen ahead because the Red Bull was more difficult to live with.

      1. PS – I really hope Verstappen has evolved as a driver and he continues to show better judgement than previous years.

      2. I agree – I’d have picked Verstappen because he at least had the challenge of beating Bottas this year whereas Hamilton had no-one to compete with but ultimately, once Verstappen got to 2nd, he drove well within himself just as Hamilton did. Having said that, I’m sure if they swapped cars, Hamilton would be disposing of Bottas and then cruising whilst Max took easy wins never having to push.

        How do you fairly compare drivers who are cruising around vs other drivers in the midfield who are going at it 100% and are therefore making more mistakes? It all comes down to people’s personal interpretation of what these rankings mean – whether it’s “which driver is the best”, “which driver had the best season” or “which driver got the most out of their car.” – if it’s the latter, I wouldn’t put either Max or Hamilton in the top two simply because they didn’t have to.

        1. I agree with you to a certain point – although I definitely think Max had to get the most out of his car several times, because he still had that other Mercedes to beat. But like you said, if you’d swap them, Hamilton would produce the same results as Max with Red Bull and it’d be easy wins for Max with Mercedes.

    5. You could swap either of them round for top spot. I’d personally have Max top but theres nothing in it. And its subjective, not objective. Or we just look at the points and divide by the other guy in the same car. Lewis is the class of his generation and has the prizes, he has the prizes because he’s in the bet car, he has the best car because he’s the best driver.

    6. Hamilton made less mistakes than Verstappen and was mostly better at preserving his tires under different conditions.

    7. I have a completely unproven theory that the next generation are just faster than the likes of Hamilton, Vettel etc. They’re using new training techniques and fine tuning every aspect of the sport to a degree not seen before. If this is the case put Max, Charles or George in a car beside any of the older generation drivers and they will come out on top.

  6. Turkey, the sole race of the season which saw Verstappen take the chequered flag outside the top three, was probably the only missed opportunity to win he could be blamed for. He was running ahead of eventual winner Hamilton before spinning while trying to pass Sergio Perez. He is a much-matured driver compared to his earlier years in the sport, but impatience got the better of him on this occasion.

    This isn’t true what happen was Sergio came out of that turn not ideal bringing Max straight on his tail Max didn’t want to overtake there (his own words) But run in Sergio wake losing his RB and spins. Losing control was his fault not because he wanted to overtake.

    Personaly i have Max on 1 but i used the powerratings of all 17 races of F1.com

  7. Expected Max to be at #2. If he didn’t have such a horrible race in Turkey, drop the ball on lap 1 in Portugal, or managed to keep his car out of the barriers in Sakhir, he would have probably sealed 2nd spot in the WDC and #1 in the rankings here.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      4th February 2021, 14:44

      Completely agree but Sakhir he was collateral damage, same in Tuscany I believe. But even getting caught up in incidents that were the mistake of others does take a shine off a season. Turkey was a poor mistake and Portugal was tight but should have been avoided.

      I do think Max had to push harder than Lewis due to the Merc’s domination, whereas Lewis could comfortably drive within himself but I overall agree with 2nd.

    2. In Sakhir Max couldn´t do anything. And in Tuscany he had an engine failure after pipping Hamilton. In Turkey he had a faulty wing setup since lap 10 although his move behind Perez was not good. Imo its perfectly fine to say either Max or Lewis was best. Since last year Lewis was first i would have given it to Max this year.

    3. Lewis had a couple of lesser moments too; tagging Albon in the first race and such. Verstappen had 0 penalties last year. All in all they were about equal imho; Verstappen lost out due to a less powerful, less reliable and less controllable car.

  8. Fair, i expected him to be number 2—no title pressure to cope with and having only a very lowly ranked teammate to beat kept him off the top spot for me

    1. I never let ‘title pressure’ or ‘teammate pressure’ impact my ranking.
      I simply (and mostly subjectively) rate their season discounting the car impact*.
      I focus primarily on actions like overtaking (where and how) and defending (how to keep a faster car at bay), and discount for mistakes made.

      Based on this ranking I had Verstappen on top. Undoubtedly that is partly due to Hamilton being less challenged, and cruising around a lot (more). But we are ranking actual performance in a specific year; not capabilities nor talent.

      * One year I even built an elaborate spreadsheet to calculate the car impact, but that was more work than a worthwhile addition to my intuitive knowledge.

      1. @coldfly Hmmm, precisely based on actual performance not potential, I think Hamilton edges it. Fewer mistakes, virtually none in terms of actual driving (most seemed to centre around pit lane protocols) and he did what he had to do – which ranged from finishing a final lap on three wheels, qualifying way ahead of everyone in the rain at the Styrian GP, optimizing speed, tyre temperature and tyre wear at various races in changing conditions to win them, or ‘just cruising around.’ Max had a few mistakes and possibly lost out on second place in the WDC because of them.

    2. @amam Couldn’t we say the same thing of LH though? No title pressure to cope with, a win capable car at every race, and VB, even though not a ‘very lowly ranked teammate to beat,’ still no real threat, again, and indeed may have helped distract Max from fighting him (LH) on some occasions. I’m being a bit tongue in cheek though, and would just echo what I said below which is that given the records LH has just tied in terms of WDCs and beat in terms of race wins, I don’t see that Keith had much choice in selecting LH as #1 for 2020.

      I say as well let’s just remember that the LH we are talking about in terms of his lack of pressure, or lack of mistakes, is a driver who is now about to start his 8th year in a row in an utterly dominant car that well before now fits him like a glove. It is not taking anything away from him and that reality to just ponder for a minute what Max’s career, or level of talent, or lack of mistakes etc etc would look like with a similar run in such a dominant car on such a team. Hard to imagine Max would be any easier to beat under such a scenario.

      1. Agree with Coldfly and with you, considering these arguments for me Max was the top driver this season. Much harder job to be consistent and avoid mistakes when you trying to outdrive your car than when you are most of the time just managing your pace in a dominant car. He is really much more mature too, and can read the race better now. Looks good for 2022 title!

  9. Best driver of the season for me. But in a season where Lewis coasted to multiple “best of F1” records, Max was always going to be ranked #2.

    1. David you have stated one of my thoughts too. In terms of fans of Max they don’t come much bigger than me, but how can @keithcollantine not place LH as #1 for the season during which he tied MS for 7 WDC’s and beat his record for total career F1 wins. That would seem very strange, or at least would mean there is a certain specific set of criteria for the rankings, but no, as I say, I don’t see that Keith had any real internal debate nor ‘choice’ in putting LH first.

  10. Verstappen and Hamilton either way round, 1 or 2, is fine, though I’d put them this way round too. Lewis was a touch more consistent and a touch more brilliant in some qualifications and races, balanced perhaps by Max being in a worse car and little chance to show his competitive skill: the Mercedes too far ahead, the rest too far behind. Maybe this season will be a prelude to the Verstappen era.

    1. @david-br I hope this season will be a prelude to a Verstappen-Leclerc-Sainz-Russell era. Could be exciting in 2022.

      1. @tflb Let’s hope so! F1 now has an almost embarrassingly large pool of talented drivers waiting for some real competition.

  11. The same two drivers in #1 and #2 position for the last 4 seasons.

  12. This ranking was likely set before the season even started

  13. Lewis and Max at 1 and 2 might be predictable – but it’s also 100% the right call.

    Lewis is practically flawless. Max makes the odd mistake out of frustration but his frustration is understandable when you consider that he almost won second place in the championship despite complete fewest laps of any other driver due (mainly) to issues that were his fault.

    I know he has his detractors (as does Lewis), but the guy is incredible to watch – he is a magic combination of youth and experience. He’s one of the youngest drivers on the grid but has many Grands Prix under his belt. He’s a massive asset to Red Bull, and an even bigger asset to F1.

    1. @geekzilla9000

      Lewis made a decent number of mistakes: entering a closed pit lane, ignoring yellows, practice start in a dangerous and unplanned location.

      1. It’s not about being a good boy, it’s about getting P1, winning the race, getting the fastest lap, fighting for each point and win WC at the end.

        1. Those mistakes impacted his results.

    2. Max makes the odd mistake out of frustration

      It’s rather normal given how hard he needs to push to occasionally get to Mercedes level. It’s much easier to keep it clean in a dominant car, because you don’t need to push the limits as hard, yet still Lewis made a couple of mistakes this season and Bottas was nowhere.

    3. “Lewis is practically flawless. Max makes the odd mistake”

      I really fail to understand such comments, I also fail to understand how Lewis was ranked #1…

      Max failed to maximize the car’s potential in one race, Turkey.
      The car and team however was part of this failure, unable to start in gear 1, unlike 16 other drivers and a dramatic pitcrew mistakes led to a terrible unbalanced car.

      Lewis failed to maximize the car’s potential 5 times and together with Albon collected the most penalty points this season. Austria, Silverstone, Sochi, Monza and Abu Dhabi.

  14. I’m a bare minimum Max fan but the fact he’s #2 is a joke. He was clearly the best driver this year.

  15. I think that 1st or 2nd are both defensible. This is how it stacks up for me:

    There was very little between Lewis and Max when it comes to quali. I think that Lewis drove more cleanly during quali, but that the Merc was easier to quali with (also due to DAS), so that’s probably largely a wash. Minor advantage to Lewis, based mostly on Bottas providing a bit of a challenge, but not Albon (although Bottas seemed to underperform).

    Racing wise, both drove very well and consistently. Lewis made fewer driving errors, but also had it easier. When he qualified 2nd to Bottas, he seemed to almost be waved past (and Bottas’ race pace seemed to often be poor). Max had to fight more. Lewis made one real error, hitting Albon in Austria. Max made two, the spin in Turkey and sliding off on the formation lap in Hungary. I don’t blame Max at all for Sakhir, where he drove extremely defensively and was forced to evade at a place where he had nowhere to go but the gravel. It would have been a miracle if he’d gotten out of that situation. Not delivering a miracle is not a mistake. All in all, medium advantage to Lewis.

    Following the rules-wise, Max was close to perfect. Lewis dropped the ball three times, entering a closed pit lane, doing a practice start in a dangerous location that was not agreed before with the team or race control and ignoring yellows. Those first two speak to a lack of preparation, which I rate as a more serious mistake than racing errors, because it doesn’t happen under pressure or with difficult circumstances. Lewis could have read the race notes while sitting in a Jacuzzi. Even I can do that (if I get a Jacuzzi). So major advantage to Max.

    Minor + medium is about the same as a major, so we end up with no clear winner.

    So then I start nitpicking and see that the advantages to Lewis are a little less solid. I’m very uncertain about whether Lewis actually performed better in quali. The two driving errors by Max were in the wet, which are mitigating circumstances. I contrast, I find it hard to find excuses for the rules violations by Lewis. So I lean towards Max on 1, but it’s very close.

    1. Don’t bother with a jacuzzi..

      the team told LH it was fine to start there. Twice.

      The race notes made no mention of it being unsafe and in actual fact suggested anywhere past the start line was fine.

      It’s why the next race notes had a clear delineated box drawn for starting.

      A farce of a penalty and that is why it was later reduced in impact.

      1. “the team told LH it was fine to start there. Twice.”
        No, they actually didn’t, Lewis asked if he could start a little further ahead, not 200 meters, when the team saw where he put his car the second time they knew it would be trouble. Bottas actually felt it was quite stupid as the team did instructed both drivers where to do practice starts in the briefings. It was 100% on Lewis.
        Leclerc has been in a similar situation, however he was just one or two meters out of the square, not 200 meters.

  16. Age Olde Question – Is the car not reliable OR Does the way Max drives the car cause the reliability issues?

    1. In the first race in Austria and the first 2 races in Italy the car practically broke down before he had the chance to drive much. The tire that exploded in Imola; Pirelli said they found cuts in the thread and sidewall that initiated the collapse, implying it was caused by debris of prior incidents on track.
      In Bahrain Max was unusually cautious at the start, pulling back out of a squeeze twice, only to get forced off track on the dusty parts to avoid hitting Perez, but lacking the grip to slow down enough to miss the wall.

      So the way Max drove the car had absolutely nothing to do with his retirements.

  17. Max drove well this year overall, but typically these sorts of accolades are severely subjected. Most of the comments I read for example about Leclerc could’ve easily made top spot considering his struggles with the car, beating a 4 time world champIon and getting podium finishes when they were never expected , neither which were scenarios Max or Lewis had to deal with.

    However, when we had the one race where car advantage was severely diminished and it was mainly down to driver skill, guess who ended up on top, so complain and nitpick if you want number 1 spot will be Hamilton’s until he decides he wants to give it up or it’s taken from him fair and square.

    1. You mean Turkey, where Verstappen suffered from understeer the whole race as the left half of the front wing was erroneously turned down instead of up at the start, and turned even further down at the second pit stop? Which was the only race he finished outside of the podium?
      I bet that if the front wing had been set right then Max would have won there with a big margin.

    2. In Turkey Hamilton was nowhere in the wet conditions. When it dried out the Merc was clearly the quickest car on the track.

      If it was about skill then Hamilton wouldn’t have struggled so much in the first half of the race.

  18. So we have the same two drivers in 1# and 2# position in Drivers rankings for the last four seasons.

  19. He was running ahead of eventual winner Hamilton before spinning while trying to pass Sergio Perez. He is a much-matured driver compared to his earlier years in the sport, but impatience got the better of him on this occasion.

    According to Max in the Ziggo Year review interview, he didn’t even want to overtake Perez.
    He was too close, got understeer, lost grip, made a mistake.
    But it was never his intention to overtake Perez, therefore there was no impatience.

  20. Beat team mate in qualifying 17/17
    Beat team mate in race 11/11
    Races finished 12/17
    Laps spent ahead of team mate 728/756
    Qualifying margin -0.52s
    Points 214

    Those stats, that’s the definition of demolition!

    1. shame that teammate was ranked dead last and is deemed to not to be of F1 standard

      1. Yes, don’t you think I’m a blind verstappen fan, I believe he’s the joint best driver of the grid, and I’m a big criticizer of albon’s red bull performance, in my opinion red bull has been far too tolerant towards him, the huge difference is due to both things, I just pointed out the impressive difference in stats.

        In albon’s defense, he was worthy of f1 in toro rosso, he just can’t drive a top car.

  21. Max would beat Bottas 17/17

    Very harsh that he’s not number one.

    Clearly the best driver on the grid in my opinion.

    1. Nah-studies show Bottas is quicker than Ricciardo over 1 lap–Max didn’t exactly blow Ricciardo away

      1. Not….?
        The gap between Ricciardo and Verstappen was actually bigger than between Hamilton and Bottas…. about factor 3-4

        1. Exactly, and I put Ricciardo top 5. He’s destroyed Vettel, Hulkenberg, Ocon, will do the same to Norris I believe.

  22. Well, there was no attacks here. We’re safe for now.

  23. The article says:
    “Given that, for Verstappen to end the championship just nine points behind Valtteri Bottas is a seriously impressive achievement.”
    The reality is that he just got in that position (only 9 points behind) mostly because of the incompetence of the later. I’d like to see Hamilton with a better teammate. Hamilton is the best driver on the grid, but he is not unbeatable as everyone saw in 2016, and I also point 2011 when Jenson Button literally kicked his ass. I’d love to see Verstappen, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Vettel or Alonso as his teammate. 2021 we’ll see Mercedes dominance, but we’d like to see some fight like on Rosberg days.

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